Bigamy Is A Continuous Offense; Wife’s Consent For Second Marriage Is Inconsequential: Karnataka High Court


The Karnataka High Court on 25th May 2022 ruled that bigamy under Section 494 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) is a continuous offence, and the consent of the wife for the second marriage becomes irrelevant for the consideration of the offence, through the single bench of Justice M Nagaprasanna in the case of Anand C. @ Anku Gowda & Ors. vs Chandramma (Criminal Petition No. 9849 of 2021).



The present criminal petition was filed in accordance with Section 482 of the Cr. P.C. The petitioner sought for the dismissal of the respondent’s complaint submitted before the principal civil judge and JMFC in the PCR.NO.151/2018, as well as the dismissal of the C.C.NO.115/2021 filed before the Prl. Civil Judge and JMFC, Channapattana.

According to the facts of the present case, the 1st petitioner and the respondent married in 1968. It is alleged that the 1st petitioner married her sister, Savitramma, with the consent of the respondent in 1972-73. In 1993, the 1st petitioner married the 2nd petitioner, Smt. Varalakshmi. The allegation is that it was done with the approval and consent of the 1st and 2nd wives.

It was also stated that the 1st petitioner’s property was divided equally among all of them. As a result, the 1st wife was aware of the 1st petitioner’s marriage to Smt. Savitramma, the 2nd marriage, and both Smt. Savitramma and the respondent were aware of the 1st petitioner’s marriage to the 2nd petitioner, the 3rd marriage. It is also stated that they all lived peacefully together. In 2018, the respondent filed a private complaint against the petitioners herein under Section 200 of the Cr.P.C., alleging offences punishable under Section 494 of the IPC for bigamy, Section 109 of the IPC for abatement, and Section 34 of the IPC. On the same day that the aforementioned private complaint was filed, the respondent simultaneously filed an application under Section 12 of the Domestic Violence Act, 2015.

Following an order taking cognizance of the petitioners’ offences, the Magistrate issued summons to them in accordance with Section 204 of the CrPC. The act of the Magistrate taking cognizance was contested in the subject petition.

The petitioner’s counsel stated that the allegation of polygamy against the 1st petitioner is false because the complainant/respondent was well aware of his relationships. After all, because the 1st petitioner contracted subsequent marriages with her permission. It was further asserted that the complaint was filed in 2018, about 25 years after the complainant’s marriage to the 2nd petitioner, and approximately 45 years after the complainant became aware of the 2nd marriage.

The complainant’s emphatic submission was that she was unaware of the 1st petitioner’s marriage to the 2nd petitioner. Despite the fact that the 1st petitioner is already married, he married the 2nd petitioner, which is clearly bigamy, and there can be no delay in cases of bigamy,


The court relied on the Supreme Court’s judgement of State of Bihar vs. Deokaran Nenshi and Another [(1972) 2 SCC 890, in which it was stated that a continuous offence is one that is susceptible of continuation and distinguished from one committed once and for all. The proceedings against the 1st and 2nd petitioners cannot be quashed since the 1st petitioner admits to the offence in the petition. It would be immaterial whether it was with the consent of the 1st wife or with the consent of the 1st and 2nd wife for the third time for consideration of the offence of bigamy.

Accordingly, the criminal petition was allowed in part.

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